Motherhood penalty means many women in tech leave due to care responsibilities

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Women who have flexible working arrangements have a significantly higher retention than those who didn't. These finding emphasise the damage that the 'motherhood penalty' has on the tech industry and its ability to keep women working within it.Almost 40 per cent of female tech leavers cited caring commitments as a decisive factor in their decision to leave the industry, according to research by Tech Talent Charter. Work life balance was ranked the most important consideration, as working parents are juggling careers and full-time caring commitments, prompting the Tech Talent Charter and MotherBoard Charter to join forces to address maternity retention in tech. Women who have flexible working arrangements have a significantly higher retention than those who didn’t. These findings emphasise the damage that the ‘motherhood penalty’ has on the tech industry and its ability to keep women working within it.

Despite being recognised for its innovation, the tech industry continues to face the issue of retaining female workers. A staggering 50 per cent of women leave tech by age 35, which coincides with childbearing years, with a further one in four women leaving tech, entering into other industries. By addressing the complexities of motherhood, the partnership can help foster a more inclusive and gender-balanced environment in tech.

The organisations have called for businesses to take ten key steps to tackle the penalty, including flexible working arrangements and supporting women’s career development. By improving these actions, they believe that businesses will begin to create an environment that supports working mothers and will help to retain women in the tech industry.

Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group, said: “Women plan a vital role in the future success of the technology industry and returners in particular hold invaluable skills and experiences that can help the sector grow. Unfortunately, taking time out of work for maternity leave too often counts against even the most skilled female employees, even if they have directly relatable skills that could transform the business.”

“Organisations must emphasise supportive return to work policies and provide training to help returners bridge their transition back to the workplace. This not only boosts retention in the industry but provides outstanding role models for the younger generation setting out on their careers, acting as an inspiration to remove stereotypes. Barriers must be broken down when it comes to maternity leave and industry must prioritise supporting returners back to work to harness their fresh perspectives and wealth of skills.”